By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
More than 800 CE dealers, IT resellers, custom installers and vendors of every stripe converged on this central Pennsylvania town last month, site of D&H Distributing's third annual Digital Convergence Expo.
The turnout, which has tripled since the show's inception, underscored the quickening pace with which the A/V and PC industries are overlapping and melding, and also further established D&H as a leading purveyor of products, services and solutions from both the CE and IT industries.
“Digital convergence was still just talk last year,” said Dan Schwab, D&H's VP/marketing. “Now it's a reality. Our customers on both the IT and CE side are reporting more convergence sales and more demand for the expertise that makes these solutions work seamlessly together. Both selling communities want to prepare for the expansion they see coming.”
To that end, attendees swarmed the show's 55 exhibitor booths, which ran the gamut from CE stalwarts like Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic, to IT-heavyweights Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Intel. Retailers also soaked up 22 rotating seminars hosted by ViewSonic (flat-panel displays), Russound (distributed audio), Hawking Technology (wireless networking) and the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
Other sessions included Microsoft's “A Day in the Life of a Media PC”; Intel's “Digital Home and the Intel Channel Initiatives”; and “Structured Wiring and How to Sell it to Home Builders,” presented by On-Q Home.
Elsewhere, market challenges were identified and addressed during a keynote panel that included Sean Wargo, industry analysis director for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); Todd Garrigues, North American channel marketing manager for Intel; and installers Ken Bosley, CEO of World Premier Home Entertainment, and Tim Klan, CEO of Expert Computers. Issues included the dearth of true plug-and-play convergence solutions, CE price compression, and the potential for CE/IT partnerships.
The show also featured a three-vignette “Connected Home” exhibit, comprised of a fully-functional bedroom with a photo printing center; a state-of-the-art home office/business center; and a PC-based living room media center with an LCD display, PVR and distributed audio.
“The Expo offers an important opportunity to see both ends of the market, providing perspective on where we're headed as purveyors of these technologies,” said World Premiere's Bosley. “It's becoming apparent that we're not just selling products anymore. We're selling a lifestyle.”
To help meet burgeoning demand for information and product — and vendor interest in tapping new markets — D&H is taking its show on the road, literally. The Digital Convergence Road Show will travel to Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Santa Clara, Calif., this September.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.